Stuart Sutcliffe, known as the Fifth Beatle or the Lost Beatle, died on this day, April 10, 1962, of s brain hemorrhage. He was only 21.
He was the original bass guitar player with the fledgling Liverpool band and performed with them, along with original drummer Pete Best, in Hamburg, Germany, in 1960.
It turned out, however, that Stuart Sutcliffe was a better artist than a musician and he enrolled in the Hamburg College of Art. He studied under future pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi, who said Stuart was one of his best students.
In Hamburg, Stuart met photographer Astrid Kirchherr and they became engaged in November of 1960.
Kirchherr says that she immediately fell in love with Sutcliffe, and years later still called him “the love of my life.”
Stuart’s abstract expressionist paintings continued to gain recognition, and years after his death his work would be exhibited in New York’s Guggenheim Museum.
While studying art in Germany, Stuart suffered severe headaches and acute sensitivity to light, and in April of 1962 he collapsed in the middle of an art class, He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The cause of death was a brain hemorrhage.
THE JAMES DEAN OF HAMBURG
“I looked up to Stu, I depended on him to tell me the truth. Stu would tell me if something was good, and I’d believe him.”
— John Lennon
ASTRID KIRCHHERR REMEMBERS
“Stuart was the most beautiful, sensitive and gifted boy. I still put a flower beside his photograph at my bedside on his birthday.”
On a personal note, my teenage son, a Beatles fan and doomed poet, adopted the name Stephen Sutcliffe to create a new identity for himself separate from mine (Sutcliffe after Stuart Sutcliffe and Stephen from James Joyce’s Stephen Daedalus in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.) I wrote about it HERE.